Ma is “not guilty” and may covet KMT chair–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

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Summary: Pegatron chair calls Taiwan’s economy “lopsided”. A court rules Ma Ying-jeou and Jiang Yi-huah not guilty. Ma Ying-jeou may try to win back KMT chair. There is a proposal to end oaths delivered to Sun Yat-sen. But first, lots of headlines.

Headlines

Taiwan’s number of Covid-19 cases has passed 500, but the number of deaths remains at only seven.

Taipei is the eighth smartest city in the world, according to an index published by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD).
Its ranking fell by one notch from last year in the IMD index, which is in its second year.
IMD surveyed more than 13,000 people in 109 cities, who were questioned about how they perceived the impact of technology in five areas: health/safety, mobility, activities, opportunities and governance.
They ranked Singapore, Helsinki and Zurich as the world’s smartest cities.

Taiwan’s central bank decided to maintain its key interest rates, at a quarterly policymaking meeting, a move that was widely expected by the market.

Fitch ratings maintained Taiwan’s rating at AA-, saying the following:
“Taiwan’s ratings are supported by its robust external finances, strong macroeconomic policy framework, competitive business environment and high governance standards.
These strengths remain in place despite the economic disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic.
The ratings are primarily constrained by Taiwan’s low per capita income relative to the ‘AA’ category median, and complex relations with mainland China that raise the potential for economic and political shocks.”

The NT$ has been strong this year against the US$, breaking through the NT$29 barrier, in spite of Central Bank efforts to keep the currency stable.

Google is planning to pour more funds into its hardware development team in Taiwan to seek a bigger market share for its line of Pixel smartphones in the competitive global market.
Google in 2018 bought out the design team in HTC that had previously designed the phone for Google.

The steel frame for a 100-foot high-performance computing data center globe that is being built in he Wisconsin by Hon Hai (aka Foxconn) has been completed.
After a slow, confused and contradictory start, Hon Hai appears to finally be getting serious about its Wisconsin investment.

A candidate for the post of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) president has dropped out following a report questioning his links to Chinese academia and government programs.

The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) announced it has allocated NT$68 million (US$2.32 million) to build an Internet-of-things platform that will facilitate proactive maintenance of the railway system and enhance service punctuality.

The latest legislative session has kicked off, but five lawmakers short.
The SOGO bribery investigation scandal has led to three being arrested–two from the KMT and one from the DPP–as well as two independent lawmakers also with legal issues, including the so-called “King of Hualien” Fu Kun-chi who is serving jail time.
The court had to get Legislative Yuan approval to make the arrests of the SOGO trio.
Speaking of the “King of Hualien”, Hualien Prison denied claims that it was giving him special treatment.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told a weekly Cabinet meeting that completion of upgrades to four boiler units at the coal-fired Taichung Power Plant earlier this year would reduce its air pollutant emissions by 80 percent over the next five years.

The National Space Organization (NSPO) has announced that it has developed the nation’s first cross-platform satellite operation control system, which is used to control the Formosat-7/COSMIC2 constellation.
They claim it will save nearly NT$500 million (US$17.02 million) on project development.
In related news, the launch of weather satellite Triton, or Wind Hunter (獵風者號), has been postponed to 2022 due to component delivery delays.

The representative of the U.S.’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to Taiwan thanked Taiwan for helping the FBI uncover a global hacking campaign led by Chinese hackers

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) says the Vatican had given the assurance that its extension of an accord for two years with China on the appointment of Catholic bishops will not affect its diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
This agreement comes in spite of a strong surge in religious oppression, including of Catholics, in China.
The Pope isn’t the first person to get all starry-eyed about the huge Chinese market, but considering history, one would think he’d think twice about cooperating with a nation with extensive concentration camps.

It turns out that the recent Czech delegation isn’t the only cooperation between the two countries bearing fruit.
Taiwanese tennis player Hsieh Su-wei (謝淑薇) and her partner, Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic, won the women’s doubles final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia tournament in Rome.

A Swedish lawmaker has issued a motion to change the “Swedish Trade and Invest Council” to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei.”
He said the move will deepen the ties between the two countries.

Pegatron chair calls Taiwan’s economy “lopsided”

The chair of electronics exporter Pegatron Corp recently had some interesting comments on the economy.
At an industry forum in Taipei, he said “the Taiwanese economy is lopsided”.
“We always rely on the tech sector. It is like a forest with only one kind of tree. There is not enough diversity.”
While the service sector comprises 60 percent of the Taiwanese economy and industry only 30 percent, the domestic service sector is not internationally competitive, he said.
“A country does not need to have a lot of land and a large population to thrive economically, what is more important is finding a place in the global economy to put talent and intelligence to good use,” he said.
Many China-based Taiwanese firms are moving back home amid an escalating US-China trade dispute, but he said it would do no good to move Pegatron’s factories back to Taiwan because of the nation’s limited labor force.
“If somebody wanted Pegatron to move our factories back to Taiwan from Shanghai and Suzhou, I would have to say sorry… We need to find 200,000 workers. That’s not possible in Taiwan,” he said.
Instead, Tung suggested “a division of labor” where jobs that require more creativity and generate more value stay in Taiwan while other jobs are exported.
He makes some interesting points here, though to a certain degree his main point–that local creative and service industries aren’t competitive–is already changing very rapidly.
The success of bubble tea shops, Taiwanese food, video games, movies, TV shows, music and culture are already paving the way.
In fact, Taiwan already punches above its weight, and is growing rapidly.
His other point about moving businesses back from China is also a good point–some businesses shouldn’t be brought back to Taiwan, Taiwan no longer has a near endless supply of cheap factory workers like it once did.
They’re too busy now figuring out how to feed foreigners more dumplings and video game content.

A court rules Ma Ying-jeou and Jiang Yi-huah not guilty

The Taipei District Court has ruled that former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), former premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), along with two top police officials, are not guilty of attempted murder and excessive use of force in evicting protesters occupying the Executive Yuan on March 23 and 24, 2014.
At the time the Sunflower movement protesters were occupying the legislature, promoting a pro-Taiwan agenda in protest of the KMT-led legislature’s efforts to draw closer to China.
To the fury of the president and the premier, the speaker of legislature Wang Jin-pyng–whose official title was President of the Legislative Yuan–decided peaceful discussion was the way to handle the situation there.
A group then decided to try the same with the Executive Yuan, which was officially under the control of Jiang Yi-huah.
He had other ideas, and called out the police in force.
They came in with water cannons and wielding truncheons and shields–and let loose.
Around 40 protestors were injured, including one 76-year-old who got hit with both water cannon and beaten by police.
The scene was heartbreaking to watch, even just on TV from Taichung.
The protesters, many of them young, were crying out “don’t hit people” to the police, but to no effect.
By international standards, or even by Taiwan standards not so long ago, it wasn’t exceptionally violent–but by recent Taiwan standards it was shocking.
The plaintiffs plan to appeal.

Ma Ying-jeou may try to win back KMT chair

I’ve been watching former president and KMT chair Ma Ying-jeou, fellow former chair Eric Chu, former Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu and New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih’s moves to see if there is any indication they will run for KMT chairman.
The next party chair election, by the way, has been moved from May to August 20 next year.
Eric Chu has set up a policy group, which strongly suggests he will run.
Han and Hou, in spite of a lot of rumours they may run, have been keeping a low profile on the issue.
Ma has been very active in party politics recently, which strongly suggests to me he might run.
Now there is another indication.
Former KMT legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) said during a radio interview that Ma will surely enter next year’s race for the KMT chair, though the former president does not seem to intend to run for president again.
That’s interesting, historically usually the chair and the presidential candidate are the same.
Why would he want to run, after all he’s held that position before and he’s no spring chicken.
Ma’s recent activities in party politics clearly show he’s opposed to current chair Johnny Chiang’s reform efforts, so that is likely a major reason.
And who knows, maybe he’s bored or wants to be back in the limelight.

Proposal to end oaths delivered to Sun Yat-sen

Two DPP lawmakers have proposed to eliminate a requirement that public officials and military personnel take their oaths of office in front of a portrait of Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙).
One of the sponsors, Fan Yun (范雲), said it was aimed at “doing away with authoritarianism.”
Article 6 of the National Emblem and National Flag of the Republic of China Act stipulates that government agencies, schools and the military should display the national flag above an image of Sun at the front and center of any room where people congregate.
I’m going to do a walkthrough of a section of a Taipei Times article entitled “Ending oaths to portraits of Sun democratic: DPP”.
“Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Charles Chen (陳以信) yesterday blasted the proposal on Facebook.
“The DPP thinks that just doing away with Chinese history is not enough, now they want to eliminate all of the Republic of China’s [ROC] founding fathers,” he wrote.”
What he’s referring to is the new education curriculum that no longer teaches Chinese history as a stand-alone subject, but as part of regional history.
“The DPP wants to remove portraits of Sun under the auspices of “transitional justice,” but tomorrow it could use the same excuse to remove the national flag, he said.
“Once the national flag is moved away from our founder, it will lose its revolutionary significance, and the nation will lose the significance of its founding.
If the DPP later decides to replace the national flag, the people will already be numb to the idea,” he said.”
Chen is probably right that Fan would indeed like to replace the national flag, but his worry about the flag losing its revolutionary significance and the significance of its founding is misplaced.
That boat has already sailed, very few in Taiwan care about the revolutionary significance of the ROC flag, after all Taiwan was under Japanese rule when the ROC was founded.
Chen also seems to not know that the current flag isn’t the original ROC flag, which was instead a series of coloured horizontal stripes.
It is true that the KMT flag has a long, revolutionary history, though.
“Next, the nation’s name will be in danger, Chen added.”
I also think if Fan had her way, yes she would get rid of that, too–but that and the flag are being kept by the Tsai administration to avoid internal strife and war with China.
“Fan said Chen is too paranoid.”
Actually, probably not.
According to Chinese language reports, the DPP caucus hasn’t stated a position on this, in spite of the Taipei Times headline, and the KMT has blocked it.
It has now been shelved in a procedural committee.
If there is going to be movement on this, it would probably be later in President Tsai’s term, after other priorities are tackled first.

Image courtesy of Johnny Chiang’s Instagram

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